LINES FROM LONDON V CHARLTON (A)



Optimism is starting to rear its ugly head but I'll be in a rosier mood if we can get a result against one of our major rivals this afternoon. I thought we were lucky to get a win against Peterborough but it was all the more welcome after they'd given me the jitters every time they went forward in the first-half. Maguire is doubtful while Dobson is still suspended but Power is available again. I wish we'd managed to get our hands on Marcus Maddison but I was pleased we held on to Kimpioka as we usually let our young talent go. Hopefully Hume will be putting in some great low crosses again but our cumbersome strikers need to get on the end of a few of them. I'll be watching the match on SAFSEE and my match prediction is a well-tussled 2-2 draw.

When I got the team-news, Maguire was nowhere to be seen and both Graham and O'Brien were starting. Maddison was on the bench for them and their number 3 was Purrington, who has a very pleasing name but I hoped he wouldn't be purring at full time.

I opened a can of Guinness and settled down to watch the stream. Nothing much happened at all in the opening ten minutes and in our first real attack Scowen moved down the right, put in a head-height cross but Graham didn't make a move towards it and the ball went to safety. Burge hardly had a touch before we won our first corner in the twentieth minute and that was all to the good. We had a good couple of minutes with Graham almost getting on the end of two difficult chances. We were still taking ages to get forward at times but we were keeping possession well and Leadbitter was looking composed at the centre of midfield. Just after the half-hour mark we won a couple of corners and from the first of these Flanagan had a great header on target that Amos in goal saved well. We were having much the better of the play and a goal before the break would put us in a strong position. Graham had a great opportunity after a shot was beaten away but he couldn't get a clear shot on target but with three minutes to the break he missed a really golden chance when from a low cross from the right he skied the ball in front of a gaping net when, as they say, it looked easier to score than to miss. It remained goalless at the break and though we'd had the better of things and had looked composed, our finishing had been weak and we needed to change things there, the sooner the better.

As we kicked off again there were no changes and I thought the game was there to be won. Things were again fairly uneventful until the fifty-fourth minute when a good Gooch effort dipped just over the bar. I wondered whether Parky would make a late sub but I wanted an earlier one to see maybe Grigg on for Graham. That duly happened in the sixty-fifth but we also replaced O'Brien with Wyke so we were clearly going for it. My 2-2 prediction was by that stage looking highly unlikely and a 0-0 or a 1-0 to either side was more realistic. Shortly afterwards Charlton made a rare attack, set up by ex-Sunderland player Johnny Williams's nifty back-heel. We've had so many players in recent years I can only vaguely remember who Johnny was. In the seventy-third minute things took a dramatic turn when Flanagan received a straight red for a foul on Washington and we also of course conceded a free-kick...but it went high and wide. With Charlton taking the game to us with fifteen minutes to go I wondered if we could hang on but I was comforted by the fact that Charlton's finishing was poor. A great run down the left and low cross by Hume found Wyke but he couldn't capitalise on it. Maddison replaced Levitt with six minutes left and I wasn't pleased to see him. He immediately took a free-kick that also resulted in a Willis booking but we got it clear. It was going end to end in the dying minutes and 0-0 was increasingly looking like a decent result in the circumstances. I was a bit mortified to see five minutes of stoppage-time announced but we coped well with whatever Charlton came up with, very little frankly, and it ended 0-0.

In the end I'm a bit disappointed as though before the game a draw seemed like a good possible outcome, Charlton had little to offer and we had chances enough to win it. We really need an effective striker and phrases such as, “Couldn't get on the end of” and “Didn't quite manage to...” are growing increasingly tiresome.


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